Shingles is a viral infection caused by the varicella-zoster virus, the same virus that causes chickenpox. Once someone has had chickenpox the virus can lay dormant in the body and reactivate as shingles later in life. A shingles treatment is not required, as the rash can clear in a few weeks, however dermatologists strongly recommend a shingles treatment for many reasons.
In the United States about 1 in 3 people will develop the condition, and there are approximately 1,000,000 cases per year. It is a common infection, and most people greatly benefit from a shingles treatment to reduce pain, swelling, numbness, and itching. An episode of shingles will often last between two and six weeks, and someone who develops the condition should seek proper treatment immediately.
Shingles is contagious, and some may be more at risk for the condition than others. It is often painful, and the affected area of the skin will be sensitive to the touch. After the onset of pain, a red rash and blisters can develop. The rash is most common on the abdomen but can also occur on the face or other body parts. Fever, headache, chills, and upset stomach are symptoms that can also occur but are less common.
Treatment for shingles is strongly recommended because without it, many people get pain, numbness, itching, and tingling that can last for months or years. It is best to get treatment immediately. Shingles treatment can include:
- Pain relievers to help ease the pain
For some, the pain can be very bad, and over the counter or prescription pain medication may be necessary.
- Anti-viral medicine
This medicine may be prescribed when a doctor diagnoses shingles within 72 hours of the rash first appearing. The earlier anti-viral treatment is started, the better it works. Anti-viral medicines can lessen the pain and the amount of time the pain lasts.
- Nerve blocks
Nerve blocks are given, albeit infrequently, for intense pain; and these shots contain a numbing anesthetic and sometimes a corticosteroid.
To decrease swelling and pain, some patients may get corticosteroid pills with their anti-viral medicine. This treatment, however, is only used when extremely necessary as it can potentially worsen the rash.
- Treatments for pain after the rash clears
Certain anti-depressants, pain relievers, anesthetic creams and patches, and anti-seizure medicines can help treat pain after the shingles rash clears.
When discussing shingles, dermatologists may recommend multiple tips to help manage the condition. A shingles treatment should be discussed right away once the condition starts. A dermatologist should be contacted quickly once the rash develops to shorten the duration and lessen the intensity of the symptoms.
Vujevich Dermatology Associates offers medical, surgical, and cosmetic dermatology from some of the most highly trained physicians and clinicians in the greater Pittsburgh area. You can reach our team at 412-429-2570 or visit our contact page to see all of our locations. You can also follow us on Facebook to see what’s new in the world of dermatology.